There was a time when peoples’ politics defined much of who they were—morals, character, virtues, fund of knowledge, their understanding of complicated world events and their personal empathies. Their beliefs weren’t always agreeable but were at least well-defended by deep roots and educated convictions.
Disagreements were conversation points revealing sharp differences, but respect for the other person and a craving for depth and understanding of their opposing view.
Discussions were exited without driving wedges or assaults on character. They were deliberate, genuine attempts at bridge building though neither one might admit it in the moment. To understand another’s fundamental politics was a desire to understand the entirety of the person. Conversations weren’t punctuated by sound bytes, innuendo or irrelevant periphery. They weren’t permitted to end on vague or shallow arguments and were always less about the politics and more about the mind and heart of the person. The end game was to evolve new ideas and solutions for all rather than digression into single issues of personal preference with feet dug in.
They embraced ‘what-ifs’ not as threats but as the creative bridges they were and ‘why-nots’ as opportunities to lay new stones for a unifying path, not for casting at one another across their divide. Indeed, they were dialogues of dream-builders engaged in the pursuit of a better life, a better world and prosperous opportunity for the all versus the one. It was a hot day in August fifty years ago when a man spoke “I have a dream” and unified a sharply divided nation that still had yet to learn. That dream can still come true in this polarized world if people want it bad enough. Meaningful change waits for those who firmly grasp the fact that under the veneer, what we all want has more in common than not, and in many ways, is much the same thing.